Championing a changing office space at Stantec Tower

September 27, 2018 Kathleen McCabe

Our new global headquarters embraces workplace innovation and design—offering unique flexibility and a community connection


For the last several years, our Company has thrived in Edmonton’s urban core. But as we move into our new office over the next few weeks, our Edmonton employees will experience some exciting and significant changes to their workplace. Edmonton staff had primarily been based out of Stantec Centre and the Devonian (both at 112 Street and Jasper Avenue) with another Stantec office 10 blocks away. Stantec Centre/Devonian offered a lot of advantages, including an abundance of nearby dining options, a flexible front street, and strong ties to our heritage.

What we didn’t love? The separation—even if it was only a few city blocks.


One Community Floor in the new Stantec Tower features a west-facing winding bench for reflection. (Photo: Jason Franson)


At our core, Stantec is truly “Better Together.” But our Edmonton force grew to the point we could no longer fit in one building. Our staff and leadership increasingly expressed their desire to consolidate in a collaborative environment that promoted interactions, reduced travel time between offices, and facilitated the Stantec Community that drives the way we want to work.

Coming together would help our staff feel connected—to each other, to our clients, and to our community. So, we planned for that opportunity by aligning our current occupancies and started the consolidation process in 2012.  

When the right circumstances came along, the opportunity was bigger than we had ever imagined. Not only would we be able to house all our Edmonton employees under one roof in the vibrant heart of Edmonton, but we were able to create a true 360-degree project that we designed ourselves. It doesn’t get better than that.

Now we’re weeks away from moving into our new global headquarters: Stantec Tower, the tallest building in Canada outside of Toronto.


A monument to our Company

Stantec Tower is a powerful step forward for our Company and an achievement that represents the hard work of hundreds of our talented staff. Putting a tenant improvement plan of this magnitude together required countless hours of collaboration, both internally and externally with ICE District Joint Venture, the City, and our key partners (PCL, Teknion/Allwest, and JLL). Hundreds of our staff came together to design and execute on a workplace plan that is second to none.

The result? Not only was this the largest lease negotiation of my career, it was the largest lease in Edmonton’s office space history! The opportunity to design our own future home was incredible. Plus, we formed a strong partnership with the Katz Group and ONE Properties. They became a client, and we became both a tenant and consultant.

​Our goals were clear from the beginning: we wanted to walk the walk and demonstrate our commitment to excellence in the built environment. The building is targeting LEED Gold while the interiors are targeting LEED CI Silver—achieved through innovative floorplans, sustainability features, collaboration stations, and plenty of natural light to treat staff with views of downtown Edmonton.

The creative community floor design offers versatility, providing our staff with several places to work from throughout their day. Floors 6 to 19 include open and closed workspaces, private spaces to accommodate phone calls and heads down focused work, and cafés to facilitate connections and social opportunities.

Now, our office allows us to adapt each space to specific work groups, and it gives us the flexibility to change the layout quickly and inexpensively when needed—adapting for our future working needs.


Stantec Tower’s innovative community café offers several breakout spaces for collaboration. (Photo: Jason Franson)


Innovation in design

Our office space is designed after Activity Based Workspace, where space responds to and accommodates a wide variety of specific workstyles and tasks. While it includes open workspaces, it’s much more than that. With a balance of open and closed workspace—assigned by function rather than hierarchy—our designers created intimate neighborhoods within each floor where our teams can connect easily but still have privacy and a sense of belonging.

Picture an office environment where conversations spark organically and flow smoothly from one workstation to another. Imagine a workplace that overflows with diverse collaboration spaces like conventional meeting rooms, casual picnic benches, and spacious lunch rooms. A place where people, no longer bound by the seclusion of their offices, can congregate, communicate, and create.

The Community Floors on 3 and 4 were designed to highlight our company’s focus on design excellence and commitment to community. These thoughtful interior spaces have been sculpted to harness creativity and exhibit the welcoming and energetic culture of Stantec. They are _q_tweetable:Not only would we be able to house our Edmonton employees under one roof, but we were able to create a true 360-degree project that we designed ourselves. It doesn’t get better than that._q_tailored to embrace both social gatherings and contemplative work, as well as to showcase the ability of our own design teams.

A dynamic community stair connects floors 3 and 4, providing a space for impromptu encounters and interactions. At the base of the stairs, a café brings together staff, clients, and the community while offering a gorgeous view of Roger’s Place and ICE District.

Stantec is a Fitwel champion and we take pride in spearheading the healthy buildings movement in western Canada. Stantec’s Fitwel initiatives complement the sustainable solutions driven by LEED and include a Mother’s Room, a prayer/wellness room, gender neutral washroom options, living walls, fitness prompts, healthy food options, and discounted programs.


Flexible office layouts

Office space flexibility appeals equally to the diverse Stantec community of today and the workforce of tomorrow. In Stantec Tower, we were able to give every employee the opportunity to choose their own workstation style and furniture set-up. In the history of workplace, nobody has ever given this many staff the ability to choose their own individual furniture.

The four styles the workplace team identified are based on how our Edmonton staff work. They are more versatile and compact compared to the current workstations, and if one day you decided to give up your office it could be morphed into an open space or small meeting room in a matter of hours. Each is unique, allowing us to individualize every employee’s experience. The four types are:

  • The Creator lives and breathes design or innovation, working in collaborative groups to bring ideas into reality while thinking outside the box.
  • The Connector thrives in networking environments and face-to-face interactions, often talking to others and working in more of a mobile role.
  • The Thinker works well independently to complete tasks involving concrete data and tactical thinking. They love detail and long periods of concentration.
  • The Multi-Tasker is the most agile, juggling a variety of tasks and frequently transitioning between collaborative and independent tasks.


A whole team effort

Designed specifically for the Edmonton staff, Stantec Tower is a showcase of international collaboration and camaraderie between our offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Calgary, and Boulder. And it’s become the platform for Workplace@Stantec—a guideline for our North American offices aiming to be implemented in over 500,000 square feet of office space by the end of 2019.

But it’s not all about size, we needed to choose the right team as well. For a project of this size to be this successful, we needed people who have the technical skills and initiative—but we wanted passionate people that can thrive in a cross-function, collaborative team environment. It has been my privilege to work with the outstanding Stantec design and engineering teams to bring this dream into reality.

Stantec Tower is the top project of my entire career. It feels like everything I’ve done—everything I’ve learned and every opportunity I’ve taken—coalesced in Stantec Tower. I can’t wait to take this experience forward onto our next big buildings project.


About the Author

Kathleen McCabe

Kathleen McCabe has led a global transformation of real estate service delivery—with both internal and external/vendor resources—aligning the enterprise vision and local business objectives with strategic real estate goals to deliver solutions that directly impact the bottom line. Her international team supports a global portfolio of more than 400 locations and over 7 million square feet.

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